Visas are stickers or stamps that shall grant you entrance to a certain country. They sometimes come in beautiful colours, are nicely designed with logos typical for the country you wish to enter and can contain various types of writing. Some of them are playing hard to get, others are easy to get hold of. My experience is that you cannot start early enough hunting them. In many cases an invitation (so called "Letter of Invitation, L.O.I.) to the country you intend to visit is required in order to apply for the visa at the country's embassy. These LOIs are usually costy and some travel agencies that offer LOI support try to get you book a complete tour with them, others offer LOI support without the need to book anything with them, again others don't even demand payment beforehand and invite you for a cup of tea once your in the area. Here's the story of my visas...
Got a reply from ismail abdolahi from Parstravel saying that they have received the details of my travels to Iran and will infom me soon.
Received my reference number for the iranian visa today, things get going...
Received an answer from Amado regarding my visa for Turkmenistan. I reply with the details of my itinerary...
Amado received my travel details and replied that they started the application. I shall receive a fax within 14 days...
Went to the Iranian embassy in frankfurt with my visa application and a copy of the email from the iranian travel agency. They said I can pick up the visa within2 hours. Upon my return they issued the visa for the wrong time period (valid from today until the 14th of july. I claimed that this is the wrong time period andthey said that it was impossible to issue a visa for a date this far in the future. After some negotiations I paid another 19.- and left my passport and an envelope addressed to myself, crossing my finger that it will work out in the end...
went to the post office today and picked up a torn letter from the iranian embassy. They wasted another page in my passport but I've got my visa (though with a slightly misspelled family name...) valid from today until the 12th of september for a stay of 30 days!
To the Pakistan embassy in Berlin in the morning, paying my dues ( 25.-) at the closest bank and left my visa application form with the friendly man at the counter, who told me that I can return in the afternoon at 16.00 hrs to pick up my visa. And so I did and left the embassy happily with a visa valid for a stay of 30 days valid from today until the 1st of November.
Went in the morning to the Turkmenistan embassy in Berlin with the fax received from amado. A 20 day visa is 49.- and takes 5 days. I leave a self addressed envelope and leave.
Finally my passport was ready to be picked up at the post office. The Visa for Turkmenistan is valid from 10.08. - 29.08.2002.
Sending my passport to the Uzbekistan embassy in Berlin. They promised to mail it back within three working days...
Finally got my passport back from the Uzbekistan embassy in Berlin today (I started to get nervous again after the delays...) I was granted a visa for the period from 15.08. - 18.09.2002.
As time is passing by to fast I decide to speed the process up a bit and invest some extra money for an "express" visa to Kyrgyzstan. A 30 day visa that shall be ready in three working days is 75.-.In addition you need to buy a health insurance for the country that costs an extra 20.-. I send my stuff to the embassy of Kyrgyzistan.
The postman rings my bell in the morning and hands me over a letter from the embassy of Kyrgyzstan. It includes my passport with the desired stamp and a proof for the health insurance.
To the post office to send my passport to the Indian embassy . A six months tourist visa is 54.-. The ususal stuff is required: Passport, visa application, a nice picture of yourself and a proof of payment for the visa fee.
The Indian embassy is a quick one! Got a letter in the morning with my passport and a six months visa.
Drove to the Chinese embassy in Bonn. An express visa is an additional 30.- on top of the 20.- visa costs. The visa can be picked up an hour later!
|Iran|| 78.-|| 35.-||-|
|Turkmenistan|| 49.-|| 25.-||-|
|Kyrgyzstan|| 75.- (express visa)||-||20.- health insurance|
|China|| 50.-||-||(express visa)|
|total|| 396.65|| 60.-|| 20.-|
Here a collection of links that are helpful for the chase:
Visaexpress (german only) has good information on what is required to apply for a visa to basically any country plus you can download the visa application form in word format. Another good source of information is Auswδrtiges Amt (german) that has up to date information plus addresses, phone numbers and in some cases links to embassies in Germany. In search for embassies around the world you can also check out Embassyworld , but I found their database to be incomplete. Excellent information on how to get visas for central asia and in particular on how to obtain the desired LOIs can be found on Hans Rossel's homepage . Good luck!!!